NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- North Little Rock police officers are leading by example with a special summer camp at the Arkansas 4-H Center.
20 kids in the area got to spend one on one time with those who serve and protect them, while also learning lots of cool stuff and exploring the great outdoors. Attendees are chosen based on their class performance and relationship with peers by their school resource officers.
“Not all police are bad,” said Rita Arteaga.
“I'm a person and I want them to get to know me as a person,” Officer Carmen Helton said.
She and other officers took their policing to a more personal level this week.
“We have watched movie, we went rock climbing, and we did group activities,” said Kelan Lindsey.
He and other kids at the camp started their summer break off with a bang.
“You know less and less kids get a chance to be outside and do these kinds of activities. More of them spend their time inside playing video games and playing on their phone,” said Eric De Vries, Arkansas Outdoor School Coordinator.
North Little Rock police building trust with summer camp
The North Little Rock Police Department hosted this annual camp and hope to build a foundation of trust with their community early on.
“These kids are going to remember this experience for a lifetime,” said Helton.
Camp goers get to experience activities they may not be exposed to otherwise. They learn outdoor life skills based on team work. Things like canoeing, fishing, and even geocaching. They've done it all!
“Before you know it, the power of their imagination starts taking over,” said De Vries.
And it's not just all fun for the kids. Officers also get a chance to escape the stress of wearing the uniform.
“They’ll say things like wow that was so much fun, I've never done that before! Those are things that you love hearing. You love seeing that sparkle in their eye,” Helton said.
She thinks better relationships can cut down on incidents happening in other areas of the country.
“There might be incidents that happen out there in the city and we need them to trust us and give us information so that we can help protect the people in North Little Rock,” she added.
Two different sides, learning not to judge a book by its cover.
"I learned that police are not just people that wear badges, they have to earn their badges to help us around the community,” said Lindsey.
North Little Rock police said they hope to expand the camp to 30 kids next year as the interests continues to grow.